When it comes to coastal cuisine, Chef Naren Thimmaiah is probably one of the best chefs in the City. In a chat with Metrolife, the man spoke about his favourite cuisine — South West Indian cuisine, which coincidentally also happens to be his area of expertise.
“I started off with Italian and later moved to South West Indian cuisine,” says the man, who has been a chef for 19 years now. “South West Indian Cuisine includes cuisines from the coastal regions of Kerala, Goa and Mangalore,” he says. “There are a lot of common ingredients binding the dishes from these places together. For instance, seafood, local spices and coconut.”
Speaking of local spices, he notes, “They change from region to region. But the most commonly used spices are red chillies, pepper and souring agents.” Ask him about souring agents and he says, “They change from region to region. Apart from the usual tomato, tamarind, lime and raw mango, there are Goan Palm Vinegar, Kachampuli (Coorgi Vinegar), Kudampuli (sour fruit from Kerala) and Kokam from Goa.” Another common ingredient found in the South West Cuisine is the parboiled rice. “Red rice is more used than white rice,” says the chef.
He denies that the South West Indian Cuisine includes only seafood. “Even vegetarian dishes from these areas form a part of the cuisine. Seasonal vegetables like drumsticks, mushrooms, jackfruits, raw mangoes and yam are popular too.”
Which is the first dish that comes to his mind when one says South West Indian Cuisine? He is quick to answer, “Kane Fish Fry.” Explaining the dish, he says, “Kane is a thin, long fish and is called as Lady Fish in English. It is deep fried with minimal spices.”
Which restaurants in Bangalore serve the best South West Indian food according to him? “There are many of them in Bangalore,” he answers. “Bon South, Coconut Grove, Opus, Coastal Junction, Sanadige in Goldfinch Hotel are some of them.”
But he feels there is no street food when it comes to South West Cuisine. “You do have shacks in those coastal regions serving authentic coastal food. But in Bangalore, you can just consider the dosas being sold from the carts as street food as far as the South West Indian Cuisine is concerned.”